Super Bowl LVIII: 10 things to know about San Francisco 49ers

NFC Championship Game

The San Francisco 49ers know a thing or two about dynasties. The franchise was the NFL’s team of the 1980s, winning four Super Bowls and adding a fifth title after the 1994 season. Now, they stand in the way of the Kansas City Chiefs, who are making their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five seasons.

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Super Bowl LVIII will be a rematch of Super Bowl LIV four years ago, when Kansas City won 31-20 to earn their first championship in 50 seasons. Eleven players who were on that 49ers team are returning to this year’s big game.

The 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game in 2021 and 2022 but lost both times. In this season’s NFC Championship game, San Francisco rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit and scored 27 straight points in an eventual 34-31 victory against the Detroit Lions.

A victory Sunday

Here are 10 things to know about the 49ers franchise, past and present.


The 49ers began as a member of the All-American Football Conference in 1946, a post-World War II league rival of the NFL. The 49ers, founded by Tony Morabito, went 9-5, 8-4-2, 12-2 and 10-4 under coach Buck Shaw, losing to the Cleveland Browns in the 1949 AAFC championship game 21-7. When the AAFC folded after the 1949 season, the 49ers were absorbed into the NFL, along with the Browns and the Baltimore Colts.

Joe Cool

Before there was Brock Purdy, Patrick Mahomes and today’s group of young, talented quarterbacks, there was Joe Montana. “Joe Cool” won four Super Bowl titles with the 49ers and cemented his legacy in Super Bowl XXII. The Cincinnati Bengals were leading 16-13 with 3:10 to play, and the 49ers were backed up at their 8-yard line.

“We’ve got ‘em now,” a Bengals player told Cris Collinsworth. The Bengals receiver retorted, “Have you taken a look at who’s quarterbacking the 49ers?”

Collinsworth was right. Montana engineered an 11-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left, giving the 49ers their third Super Bowl title. Montana would win his fourth Super Bowl ring the following year as the Niners beat the Denver Broncos 55-10.

Super Bowl XXIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, when the 49ers earned their first title at the Pontiac Superdome with a 26-21 victory.

The Catch

“It’s a madhouse here at Candlestick,” CBS announcer Vin Scully said of Joe Montana’s winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. With 58 seconds left in the game on Jan. 10, 1982, and the 49ers were trailing 27-21 and were facing 3rd-and-3 from the Dallas Cowboys’ 6-yard line. Montana scrambled to his right and threw a high pass into the end zone, where Clark made a leaping grab in the end zone to give the 49ers a 28-27 lead.

“Dwight Clark is 6-4; he stands out about 10 feet tall in this crowd’s estimation,” Scully said of the fans at Candlestick Park.

The play was called “Sprint Right Option,” and it helped the 49ers reach their first Super Bowl. San Francisco scored the game’s first touchdown on the same play, when Montana tossed an 8-yard pass to Freddie Solomon.

Scully would be making his final call in a football game, while Jack Buck made the call for CBS Radio. The call many fans will remember, though, was from KCBS’ Don Klein, who yelled, “Caught by Clark!”

Dallas still had a chance and moved the ball to the 49ers’ 44, but with 38 seconds left Danny White fumbled and Jim Stuckey recovered at midfield. The 49ers were going to the Pontiac Silverdome to face the Cincinnati Bengals, who had beaten the San Diego Chargers 27-7 earlier in the day.

“That was the origin of a dynasty,” 49ers coach Bill Walsh said.

The Genius

Bill Walsh coached the 49ers to their first three Super Bowl titles with his innovative West Coast offense. He only coached 10 years, but Walsh guided the 49ers to a 92-59-1 regular-season record and went 14-10 in the postseason. Walsh won six division championships and three Super Bowls, and his 1984 squad went 15-1 in the regular season en route to a Super Bowl XIX victory against the Miami Dolphins.

While Walsh was a cerebral coach, he knew how to keep his players loose. Most famously, he dressed up as a bellhop outside the team’s hotel on the eve of Super Bowl XVI. Walsh paid the bellhop $20 and began handling the players’ luggage. Montana, barely looking up, told the silver-haired bellhop to get lost, but Walsh was finally recognized by defensive tackle Lawrence Pillars.

Famous players

The Chiefs have retired 12 uniform numbers: Steve Young (8), John Brodie (12), Joe Montana (16), Joe Perry (34), Jimmy Johnson (37), Hugh McElhenny (39), Ronnie Lott (42), Charlie Krueger (70), Leo Nomellini (73), Bob St. Clair (79), Jerry Rice (80) and Dwight Clark (87). According to the Mercury News, the team also has a Ring of Honor.

Twenty-nine players or coaches associated with the team have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, They include Fred Dean, team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Charles Haley, Jimmy Johnson, John Henry Johnson, Lott, McElhenny, Montana, Nomellini, Terrell Owens, Perry, Rice, St. Clair, Y.A. Tittle, head coach Bill Walsh, Dave Wilcox and Young. Nomenelli and Perry were the first inductees, in 1969.

Just like Dad

Kyle Shanahan will be making his second Super Bowl appearance. He will attempt to match his father, Mike Shanahan, as a coach who led his team to pro football’s championship.

The elder Shanahan took the Denver Broncos to victories in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII. The Shanahans are the first father-son duo to lead a team to the Super Bowl as a head coach, and Kyle would like to extend that to read, “first father-son duo to lead a team to a Super Bowl championship.” Mike Shanahan also has ties to the 49ers -- he was the team’s offensive coordinator when it won Super Bowl XXIX after the 1994 season.

There is another father-son connection. Ed McCaffrey played for the 49ers when Mike Shanahan was the team’s offensive coordinator. They won Super Bowl XXIX together and then won two titles in Denver -- Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII -- when Mike Shanahan was the head coach.

Ed McCaffrey’s son, Christian, now plays for Kyle Shanahan.

Christian soldiers on

Running back Christian McCaffrey led the NFL in rushing during 2023 with 1,459 yards. According to, he had three runs of 40 or more yards and nine of 20 or more. Against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 10, McCaffrey rushed for 145 yards and had a season-high 72-yard run.

The following week, McCaffrey tied Marshall Faulk’s NFL mark with his 15th game of rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game.

McCaffrey had 21 touchdowns during the regular season, rushing for 14 and catching seven passes for scores. He is only the second player in franchise history to top 20 touchdowns. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had 23 total touchdowns in 1987 and did it in 12 games.

Purdy good year

From Mr. Irrelevant to a Super Bowl berth in his second season. Quarterback Brock Purdy’s ascendance as the 49ers’ team leader has been spectacular.

The Iowa State star was the 262nd -- and last -- pick of the 2022 NFL draft, earning him the annual tag of Mr. Irrelevant. But Purdy proved to be quite relevant, going 5-0 during the 2022 regular season when pressed into action and 2-1 in the playoffs. This season he led the 49ers to a 12-4 record and a No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. His regular season numbers for 2023: 4,280 yards passing and 31 touchdowns, according to

That got Purdy noticed -- even from the GOAT himself, Tom Brady.

“I think Brock has done a great job with the opportunity. He got it, and he’s taken advantage of it,” Brady said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “He was a late-round pick; I know he’s got a chip on his shoulder, and he wants to go out there and prove every day he’s the right fit for that team. Again, it’s a great organization to run in. I really respect (49ers coach) Kyle (Shanahan). Brock has done a hell of a job.”

Bosa speaks

Defensive lineman Nick Bosa would not seem to be the 49ers’ choice as a motivational speaker the day before games.

But he has been an effective communicator, and one that coach Kyle Shanahan relies upon to put a spark into the team, according to Sports Illustrated.

“I did it randomly for the first time with Nick some Saturday and he did a good job and we won. So I think I did it the next Saturday. He did a little bit better job when then we won. I think it was towards the end of the year,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters last week. “Then we just started with that the following year and it’s kind of just since then it’s become our tradition. Nick’s gotten really good at it. I remember he has always been good at it.

“Everything he says, he thinks through. Nick doesn’t waste words, ‘cause he doesn’t use many of them.”

General manager John Lynch agreed.

“The kid, he doesn’t say a lot, but when he does it’s very prophetic,” Lynch said, calling the lineman’s talks “Bosa time.”

“He doesn’t ever not deliver on Saturdays,” Lynch said. “It’s must-see viewing.”

Super Bowl results

Here is how the 49ers have fared in their seven previous Super Bowls. The season they won is in parentheses, but the game was played in January or February of the next calendar year.

  • Super Bowl XVI (1981): Defeated Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.
  • Super Bowl XIX (1984): Defeated Miami Dolphins 38-16.
  • Super Bowl XXIII (1988): Defeated Cincinnati Bengals 20-16.
  • Super Bowl XXIV (1989): Defeated Denver Broncos 55-10.
  • Super Bowl XXIX (1994): Defeated San Diego Chargers 49-26.
  • Super Bowl XLVII (2012): Lost to Baltimore Ravens 34-31.
  • Super Bowl LIV (2019): Lost to Kansas City Chiefs, 31-20.